Be a Quick Thinker

By Dan Abrahams

Soccer is a game of speed. But not in the traditional sense of the word. Pace will
always play a part in the beautiful game, but I‟m not on about quick feet. I‟m
talking about a quick mind. I‟m referring to nimble thinking. A footballer should
live, breathe and sleep speed of thought. Here‟s a simple way to improve it.

Practice your speed of thought. It really is that simple. If you want to get better at
it, practice it. Thinking at speed as you compete is not black magic. It‟s secret
doesn‟t lie in a tomb in the Far East or on an island in the Pacific Ocean. And it‟s
not just genetically determined. Sure some players are born with a rapid mind,
but every soccer player can learn to think that little bit quicker.

Practice, practice, practice! The more you practice this type of football
psychology the quicker you will think on the pitch.

What can you do to quicken the tempo of your brain? Well, stage one of creating
incredible speed is awareness.

Awareness is the first step in thinking quicker. You can‟t accelerate your thinking
if you don‟t know what‟s going on around you. The next time you train set
yourself a goal of playing „head up‟ for longer. Check your shoulders more often
and take more snapshots of your surroundings – try to have 360 degree
awareness at all times.

Over the years I‟ve spent thousands of hours by the side of the pitch watching
some of the very best players in the world train and compete. A striking
difference between watching the pro‟s play and watching youth soccer players
train is the amount of time the best professionals look up and around consistently
and constantly.

I once took a youth team player at a Premiership Academy through 10 minutes of
footage of Cesc Fabregas. I asked the player what it was he noticed about
Fabregas and he commented that the then Arsenal player checked his shoulders
over 10 times a minute. And it appeared that every decision he made was based
on what he had just seen.

Can you get to the Fabregas level? Can you challenge yourself to expand your
awareness horizons and check to the left, right, in front and behind you more
than 10 times a minute?

The world‟s best players have developed an internal tracking system that scans
the immediate environment. Start to build yours immediately. Be relentless with
this objective. Obsess it! The more you do it the more comfortable you‟ll feel
playing head up.

This simple process starts your education as a quick thinking footballer.

Dan Abrahams is a global sport psychologist, working alongside leading players, teams, coaches and organisations across the world. He is known for his passion and ability to de-mystify sport psychology, as well as his talent for creating simple to use techniques and performance philosophies, and he is the author of several sport psychology books as well as the founder of the Dan Abrahams Soccer Academy. You can order his books and contact him at

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